Cerrillos mining district has been called the
earliest and the most important turquoise mining
area in the country. It is located in Santa
Fe County in north central New Mexico between
the towns of Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Turquoise there has been found in most every
color, it is hard and can be of very good quality.
Today Cerrillos turquoise is considered rare
and little is seen. It can still be found in
jewelry where small claim owners and rockhounds
have supplied the turquoise.
Pueblo miners had worked the area for centuries
before the Spanish arrived. Over two hundred
dig sites have been located. The main mining
areas are located about three miles apart. One
area is situated on Turquoise Hill and includes
the Tiffany and Castilian mines.
Both the Tiffany and the Castilian were famous
for their beautiful blue turquoise. Which was
said to have been "as beautiful and of
as good quality as Persian turquoise."
The second area, located in the Cerrillos Hills,
is Mount Chalchihuitl. It was the most extensive
mining area and the largest prehistoric turquoise
operation known on the American continent. For
the complete history on the Cerrillos's mines
see, Bennett's "Turquoise and the Indian"
and Pogue's "Turquoise."
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has been mined in China for over two thousand
years, which is evident by carvings from the
earliest dynasties. Turquoise was never as popular
in China as Jade. But here in the United States
some of the finest turquoise sold over the last
25 years has come from China. Chinese turquoise
ranges in color from a full spectrum of greens
and light blues to a beautiful dark blue. Much
of the material has a dark brown or black matrix
and may also have a beautiful spider webbing.
Some of the high-grade Chinese turquoise resembles
and is thought to be equal to many of the better
known or classic American Southwestern mines.
Today turquoise in China is produced at the
Maanshan mine northwest of Shanghai and mines
in the Hubei province. Two of the finest mines
in the Hubei province are the Yungai, which
means, "a mountain covered with cloud"
and the Zhuxi "a mountain where growing
plenty of bamboo". The Yungai, or Cloud
Mountain has produced natural turquoise that
is equal to a number of the finer Nevada mines
that are now closed. Mines like the Nevada Blue,
Number 8, Blue Ridge and the famous Lander Blue.
It has been said that turquoise today from China
accounts for over 60% of the stones sold in
the United States, due to the scarcity of American
turquoise. There is an irony to the abundance
of Chinese turquoise in America as most all
of the China turquoise sold is stabilized with
plastic or treated in some way thus making the
availability of natural Chinese turquoise rare
in today's market.